The Coaches were on their feet after one of the best performances ever seen on one of these singing competition shows -- yes, it was that good!
“The Voice” delivered our first results of the season -- the winner of that 4-Way Knockout -- and a packed night of performances as the Top 17 took the stage.
It’s wild to think this show will be over in just two weeks’ time, but less wild when you consider that we’ll be cutting these 17 contestants down to our Top 9 tomorrow (Tuesday) night! While it sometimes seems like the earlier rounds last forever, the lives are short and sweet on “The Voice.”
As for that 4-Way Knockout, we thought Carolina Rial had the slightest edge over the competition for the emotional impact of her performance two weeks ago, but it was our dark horse pick and his vocal acrobatics, Devan Monique, who pulled it off with America and joined tonight’s Top 17.
A lot of our early favorites kept their momentum going -- including this season’s “unicorn of mullets” -- while a few definitely seemed a little overwhelmed by the lights and spectacle and live-ness of it all. You can always tell who gets in their head about the enormity of all those people watching at home, but it’s still hard to watch.
That said, Blake Shelton saw one performance and immediately declared that he thinks that person may be the first breakout superstar ever on "The Voice" -- which doesn't say much for a show that's been on for 20 seasons. Meanwhile, we think another contestant delivered a showstopping performance that stands among the best ever seen on one of these shows!
(“Always Remember Us This Way,” Lady Gaga - 17, Redlands, CA) There was a timidity to the opening bars of Gihanna’s performance which made it look like she was a little intimidated by the song, the stage … something! She was definitely more confident in her own wailing, with the piece rising with her to stronger moments. That said, she missed a couple of notes even as she soared. This was perhaps the first time this season she’s sounded like she’s 17 years old and this whole experience is a lot for her.
Andrew Marshall [Team Nick]
(“Put Your Records On,” Corinne Bailey Rae - 21, Boxford, MA) There was a sweetness in Andrew’s voice that suited the song choice very well, and he slipped effortlessly into and out of his falsetto. And yet, there were moments we thought he was really going to push himself vocally and give us a moment, but he held back. Finally, later in the song he had a few moments, but they didn’t all work as well. The middle of the track wasn’t quite as sharply put together as the way it started or closed, which could hurt him.
Devan Blake Jones [Team Nick]
(“Shape of My Heart,” Backstreet Boys - 36, Denver, CO) We were excited to hear how Devan would interpret this pop classic, but he took it pretty straight on -- and it did not work at all. He is so much better than what he just gave us here. He was not on pitch consistently, he seemed a little in his nerves throughout (probably was, considering). Alas, all he gave us was a pale comparison to the original and a disappointment considering the artistry he could have put on it.
Zania Alaké [Team Legend]
(“Dangerous Woman,” Ariana Grande - 34, Detroit, MI) The first half of Zania’s performance felt a little calculated to us, as if it was all clinically planned but with no real passion. We just felt something missing, and then when she came into the big chorus and missed a big note, she rattled herself briefly. Redemption was the name of the second half, though, as she was able to shake it all off and end very strong, with believable passion and connection.
(“We Belong,” Pat Benatar - 45, Nashville, TN) Interestingly, we were really expecting a breakout moment for Pete on this track after how he’s impressed in the previous rounds, but we had to just settle for really, really good. His talent is undeniable, but this was a surprisingly sleepy take on a song that has a lot of innate inergy. We get the acoustic interpretation, such as it is, but it didn’t help Pete stand out on a night when he really, really needed to.
Corey Ward [Team Kelly]
(“Bruises,” Lewis Capaldi - 34, Hartsville, SC) There were moments of powerful artistry throughout this piece, but it wasn’t consistently there throughout. As such, we found ourselves going in and out with him, at times fully enraptured with everything he was doing, but at others wondering if he could put a little more inflection in this moment, or stop thinking about where he was walking and getting pulled out of his own emotional experience.
Pia Renee [Team Legend]
(“Need U Bad,” Jazmine Sullivan - 38, Chicago, IL) Pia showed how you come out and command the stage from the very first note. She exuded confidence throughout this performance and gave a very solid vocal performance. It didn’t have quite as much dynamism as we would have liked, lacking any real moments to help her stand out in a competition, but it was nevertheless solid throughout.
Jose Figueroa Jr. [Team Nick]
(“Talking to the Moon,” Bruno Mars - 34, Kissimmee, FL) Jose did a great job of building the momentum and energy throughout this performance, coming forward and really leaning into those bigger notes. Bruno Mars turns out to be a great fit for his natural tone and the conviction with which he performs. While it wasn’t quite as powerful as his more gospel-tinged performances, it may have been his most commercial and relatable to date. Here we got to see the secular artist he could be, should he choose that path -- which he probably won’t. But that diversity can still serve him well in Christian music. His voice soared.
(“When I Look at You,” Miley Cyrus - 21, McKinney, TX) We could see and hear Zae’s nerves at the top of this performance, but he quickly found himself in a song that certainly appears to mean something to him, based solely on how he delivered it. He does have that beautiful cry in his tone that makes you feel the pain he’s projecting, and it definitely served him well here.
Jordan Matthew Young [Team Blake]
(“Gold Dust Woman,” Fleetwood Mac - 34, Austin, TX) Jordan was swallowed up a little by the band, which was a shame because he was doing some really nice things on one of the most recognizable rock anthems of all time. His natural rasp was perfect for this one, and he really delivered everything you’d want in a rock performance like this, and. And yet, we’re still worried he could get swallowed up in the competition just as he was by the music tonight.
Ryleigh Modig [Team Legend]
(“drivers license,” Olivia Rodrigo - 18, Spencer, MA) Ryleigh made some powerful choices to mix up the notes just a bit without losing the heart of the song. This is a story of passion and teen pain, and no one feels as deeply as teenagers when it comes to matters of the heart. Ryleight captured it beautifully. She showed incredible range, poise and confidence -- it was everything she needed it to be in this moment.
Rachel Mac [Team Nick]
(“Rainbow,” Kacey Musgraves - 16, Romeo, MI) Easily the softest and most ethereal performance of the night, Rachel proved that you can navigate a pretty straight song without any powerful notes or lines so long as you have a consistently strong command of the mood of the piece. She had that in bucket loads on this one, really finding a way to stand out among powerhouse vocalists and strong stylists. She’s in her very own lane (so far) on this one, and really found a way to stand out with the subtleties of her performance.
Anna Grace [Team Blake]
(“Let Her Go,” Passenger - 20, Milwaukee, WI) Anna was cool and collected throughout this performance, making some very interesting choices to hit a high falsetto note here, dive into a deeper connection there, but throughout she never lost her own connection to the piece. Her voice had a somewhat haunting quality to it that really drove the message of the song and carried her through with a memorable performance.
(“I Wish,” Stevie Wonder - 22, Peoria, IL) Victor put on a whole damned show with his two-and-a-half minutes. On top of that, he effortlessly navigated a classic Stevie Wonder track. His voice was in fine form, offering plenty of power, passion and effortless range navigating Stevie’s signature tricky shifts. Victor took this one to church and left us all on our knees with this one.
Cam Anthony [Team Blake]
(“Take Me to Church,” Hozier - 19, Philadelphia, PA) Cam took us all to church on that one. The original song is so much about emotional connection and resonance. If you don’t get that right, the whole piece falls apart. Cam had emotional connection to spare, as well as incredible power in his voice and an effortlessness to it that was just mesmerizing to watch. He’s the real deal! Blake was clearly impressed, telling Cam, "You could be the first superstar that we launch off this show!"
Kenzie Wheeler [Team Kelly]
(“Red Dirt Road,” Brooks & Dunn - 22, Dover, FL) Unlike every other person on Kelly’s team, Kenzie feels like he’s ready to seize stardom right now. His voice has so much tenderness in it, it’s rich and pure and emotionally connected in the way all the best country storytellers are. He is the real deal and almost guaranteed to start lighting up the Country charts as soon as this journey is over.
Dana Monique [Team Nick]
(“Free Your Mind,” En Vogue - 41, Houston, TX) Dana just took this stage like a damned boss, like she was a guest star coming out to show all these amateurs how this is done. The attitude was perfect, the look, the stage presence, the vocals. There was nothing more she could have done to own this moment. This is stage confidence personified. The entire number was just stunningly powerful. That was easily among the best performances of any reality competition show like this. Can she top it? She might have to!
Interestingly, in analyzing my rankings above, things broke down pretty evenly for the coaches. If we took my Top 9 as it stands, we’d have two from each coaches, plus a bonus contestant for Blake (my 8th place finisher).
Breaking it down team by team, though, is it that easy?
Team Legend is our statistically weakest team, though he’s got some great talent on there. Pia didn’t feel quite ready tonight, while Ryleigh continues stepping into her artistry and Victor keeps making a stronger and stronger case for the finale, so we stand by those rankings and predictions.
Team Kelly’s strongest competitor by far is Kenzie, but our second place finisher on her team was a distant 9th overall: Zae. And if we’re being totally honest, we think Corey will probably surpass him in the votes, just because he’s a little more interesting as an artist.
Team Blake is our overall strongest team, with both Cam and Anna bringing their A-game tonight. Pete is a sentimental favorite, but we don’t think he did himself any favors tonight. Jordan is a bit of a wild card, and that’s where we see him competing.
Team Nick is strong this year, with Dana the clear powerhouse and a definite front-runner to win the whole thing. Rachel had the next strongest night, so if all these young, current ladies don’t cancel each other out in the vote, we could see them all advancing … and deservedly so.
In the conversation for the Wild Card for us would be Team Blake’s Jordan, who was a little overwhelmed tonight but is unique and memorable in general as an artist. He would have to square off against Pia (who’s better than tonight showed us), Jose and Zae. Of them, we’ll pick Jose as the surprise victor, but hold out for the possibility of Jordan eking in there.
That said, they perform anew for the judges’ instant save, so it could come down to who really steps up in that moment. We’ll find out as “The Voice” expands to two nights a week so we can get our first live show results of the season Tuesday night!
“The Voice” continues Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.